John Gavazzoni
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On God's Hook
By John Gavazzoni

God has all men on His hook. I'm borrowing from such expressions as, "I'm not letting you off the hook"; He's on the hook for...."; "I'm on the hook for...., etc. These are ways of expressing not being allowed, not being able to, escape from an obligation. Being predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ is an inescapable imperative, an imperative that, by some definition, can be called an obligation. Paul was obligated, a debtor both to the Jews and the Greeks, to declare the gospel in accordance with his apostolic commission.

This is not a legal obligation. It is an obligation of destiny. It's an obligation pertaining to mankind's intrinsic nature, as created according to God's likeness, and fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Your destiny, the destiny of fulfilling that ontological determinism, will not let you off the hook. And what is that hook essentially. It is that we must all become lovers like God is a lover. We must all love as God loves. Yes, WE MUST.

As we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, which I will rephrase to sharpen the sense of that statement: As we grow in Jesus Christ's grace and knowledge, we will find ourselves increasingly aware of being on that hook. The love of Christ, intrinsic to his grace and knowledge, involved the obligation of the cross.

To be sure, God cannot be put in a position of being a debtor to us in the sense that He owes us good treatment based upon our performance, but He has put Himself in the position of indebtedness to carry out His purpose which included subjecting all creation to futility. He's obligated in love, as the loving architect of such a plan, to bring us to the goal of the liberty of the glory of the children of God, so God's on the hook with us.

Just last evening, I was part of a gathering of saints, where the issue arose as to how one ought to act, how one ought to respond to the many dehumanizing forces at work in our nation. The fabric of our nation, our society, our culture, is being systematically shredded. In the face of such a frightening tsunami of threats to our well-being, we have that shoot-from-the-hip propensity to look for answers along moral and ethical guidelines, which always, of course involves claiming some high ground for ourselves, but what kept coming forth from out of the best of our sense of Jesus Christ's grace and knowledge, was that there is no Way, except the Way of love.

We have to see the persons involved through the eyes of love. We have to know, to understand, to measure, to act as love does. And there's no way of projecting ahead, and saying to ourselves, well yes, love's the way, and this is the way I project that love would act in a given situation, so I'll just set out to do what needs to be done that way, but we don't know what love will do until we're actually loving.

What I'm trying to point out is that we can't theorize what love's action would be, and then set out to do that, before we've arrived at love, because we're not seeing through the eyes of love yet, we're not knowing, we're not understanding as love does. We have, for instance, the general principles concerning how love acts, as given in 1 Corinthians Thirteen, but trying to apply those principles to given situations and relationships without coming from love, WILL NOT WORK. We will be acting "as gods knowing good and evil." Instead of having our senses trained by love, to discern between good and evil. Big difference.

One of the gyrations we go through to try to get ourselves off the hook, is the gyration of the instinct for self-preservation. Faced with everything that is not of love, and feeling the imperative of responding to the same in love, an unbearable imperative to the flesh arises, and we back off that place of pressure, because it IS unbearable. It asks too much of us.

We can't respond with unconditional love to being misunderstood, mistreated, treated with egregious unfairness-as it was, crucified. WE CAN'T. Until you realize that you can't, paradoxically you'll never come to know that YOU CAN. God's ability arises out from our inability. Grace shows itself where pathetic impotence has us imprisoned in futility.

But God has made a place for us backing off. It's part of His mercy. If we can't, we can't. BUT WE CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We are more than conquerors through Him who loves us. It's so humiliating to only qualify for the Helper's ministry, the Paraclete, the One called alongside to help, by being faced with our helplessness. The Divine Helper, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, was not sent to make up for only that part which we, ourselves, can't do. He wasn't sent to just add some spiritual oomph to our ability.

As the great hymn says, ".... Help of the helpless, O abide with me." Grace isn't a matter of, "Lord, I could use a hand here if you don't mind. I'll keep doing my part while you lend a hand. OK?" Nope, not OK! IT DON'T WORK THAT WAY.

What's unbearable is TRYING to be loving, when love's artesian well of love isn't springing up. When it's not coming from the inside out, we have to "wait on the Lord." We have to wait for the release of grace, and in the meantime know that He does not hold our sin of being unloving against us.

There's no condemnation. Even while we're failing to be loving, He holds us in the embrace of perfect love. He understands where we're at, after all, it's of His ordering that we're there. About that release of grace, it doesn't come as a complement to our self-assurance. Grace is released concurrent with our realized state of neediness.

Back to the picture of hanging on the hook. There we are, hanging on that hook of love-destination, hanging as it were with our feet dangling off the ground, desperately reaching back to somehow yank ourselves off the hook, trying to get some bounce that will help do the trick-do you get the allegorical picture, but with our feet off the ground, that's useless, and there we are wiggling, squirming, going through all kinds of gyrations to get set free, but it won't work. It won't work.

We face all kinds of relational situations, we face all kinds of abominable elements within the world GOD HAS PLACED US that screams at us to make things right, to make things fair. We come up with all kinds of moral and ethical gyrations to get us off of having to love. We really are poor, wretched, miserable, blind and naked when we're so engaged, really.

"Little children, love one another."

But HOW? By knowing that we are His little children, with our Father's nature, and that nature, though it will suffer seasons of being suppressed by the world, the flesh and the devil, being who and what we are, cannot be held down forever. That's why John stated the imperative the way he did. He addressed us as God's little children. He didn't write: "Hey, you royal screw-ups, get your act together, and start being loving to one another." The imperative is based on the indicative. Before you set off to become loving, you need to know that you're God's kid, NOTHING CAN CHANGE THAT. You're forgiven, loved unconditionally, and never, never, never standing indicted for not being as loving as you should be.

The world, flesh and devil can lay ten thousand tons of concrete over that Seed of God in you, but it will find its way up and out, and finally, together, what we do, and how we do it, will come into perfect alignment with whom we are.

John GavazzoniJohn Gavazzoni
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